Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt

River Ecology and Conservation

The lter-site "Rhine-Main-Observatory"

The Rhine-Main-Observatory comprises the entire 1058 km² catchment area of the River Kinzig (Main) which flows between the Spessart, Rhön and Vogelsberg mountain ranges of the German Central Uplands. With a total length of 86 km, the Kinzig flows into the River Main at the city of Hanau. Thus, the Rhine-Main-Observatory includes both densely populated areas on the outskirts of the Rhine-Main metropolitan region as well as natural landscapes with little anthropogenic disturbance. This creates a highly diverse mosaic of land uses along a wide gradient of exploitation activities, from vibrant city centers to dense industrial areas; and from intensively and extensively used agricultural land, to heavily managed forests, to natural reserves. The biodiversity patterns and ecological processes in such complex, fragmented landscapes have hardly been examined so far. The Rhine-Main-Observatory is intensively instrumented and biological samples are taken with regular frequency at high densities.

pie chart land use

 Proportions of different habitat types in the Rhine-Main-Observatory.


s bulau j
urban area forest agriculture